The Greeks and the Enlightenment
I have finally began my exploration into Greek Philosophy, which is considered the birth of all subsequent western philosophical reflection. I have discovered so many interesting things so far, and have much more to do.
This post will be focused only on one brief facet of early Greek thought, so that i am not typing too long. More will be coming soon.
One point i found interesting was the parallels between what birthed philosophy in the west to later historical/philosophical developments. The Presocratics (the first of three stages in Greek thought) were forerunners of the Enlightenment because they saw their culture in bondage to fear of religion and its superstitions. As Barnes points out, “the presocratics were not atheists; they allowed the gos into their brave new world, and some of them attempted to produce an improved and rationalized theology in place of the anthropomorphic divinities of the Olympian Pantheon (xviii).”
While they were not atheists, they were introducing rational and more scientific ways of thinking about their world. Morey gives an apt illustration by saying that with the rise of astronomy and mathematics, “men began to learn that the movement of the heavenly bodies is controlled by certain fixed laws, and not by the whim of the gods (162).”
The outcome of this is easy to see. Morey again: “They began to lose faith in the old mythology, and to seek for some explanation of things more in accordance with reason. Philosophy thus tended to purify the old religion (162).” It should be noted that it did not “kill religion” as such, but drastically changed it.
When i read these ideas, i hear Kant and Harnack echoing approval. This approach is very much in their spirit of thinking.
From this i ask how can the church faithfully accept newer and more complex findings from outside disciplines, like cosmology, biology, psychology and the like, without losing its soul, its heart? Aren’t we already asking those questions when we have people like Borg, Spong, and Gulley offering an “alternative” view of the Christian faith?
While losing the heart of the Gospel (Trinity, Incarnation, Atonement) can’t happen, another “the world is flat” answer from the church won’t work either. How can the faith remain grounded in its ancient apostolicity while being surrounded by an increasingly complex world? How do we incarnate this pure, “simple” Gospel?
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Quote of the DayOur definition of the grace of God says that it is 'unmerited favor.' That is true, but it tends to focus on our undeservedness. . . At the same time, b/c grace has its source in love, what love promises when it makes the other an object of love CREATES in the loved one an expectation of blessing. We have not merited this blessing, but it is rightfully ours b/c it has been promised by love. -Ray Anderson